Nokia N8 vs. Apple iPhone 4 – Review

by Jerry D on September 27, 2010

If Nokia wants to drag itself back into the smartphone elite, then its new handset needs to go the full fighting distance against Apple’s Jesus Phone. The iPhone 4 is currently the handset to beat, so just how well does the Nokia N8 fare against it? Big Phone Fights rarely get any bigger…

Connectivity:

Let’s kick this off with wireless connectivity. The smart-looking N8 includes 3G/HSDPA (at speeds of up to 10.2 Mbps where available), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP. Apple has crammed its handset with 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. Bluetooth 3.0 isn’t reason alone to buy the N8 over the iPhone, so the points are shared. (1-1)

Size & Weight:

Contrast the two phones and the N8 measures 113.5 x 59.12 x 12.9mm. In comparison, the gorgeously-machined iPhone 4 is 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm. The N8 is the shorter of the two phones by 1.7mm. Weighing 135g, it’s also 2g lighter than the iPhone 4, which weighs 137g. The N8 can’t match the latest iPhone for sheer skinniness, however. (1-2)

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Camera:

The N8 comes packing a built-in 12.0 Megapixel camera with advanced features such as: Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash, autofocus, geo-tagging, face/smile detection, plus 720p HD video capture and editing. There’s also a front-facing camera for video calls.

Despite its tap to focus functionality, LED flash, geo-tagging and HD video recording at 30fps, the iPhone 4′s 5.0 Megapixel package loses out in this round. A second camera on the front can be used for video calling. (2-2)

Here’s how the raw technology of the cameras compare*.

1.0MP – 1280 x 960 pixels
2.0MP – 1600 x 1200 pixels
3.1MP – 2048 x 1536 pixels
5.0MP – 2592 x 1944 pixels (iPhone 4)
8.0MP – 3264 x 2448 pixels
10.0MP – 3872 x 2592 pixels
12.0MP – 4290 x 2800 pixels (Nokia N8)
16.0MP – 4920 x 3264 pixels

These are typical resolutions. Actual resolutions may vary

Screen/keyboard:

As for screen size, the Nokia N8 features a 3.5-inch (360 x 640 pixel) touch-sensitive AMOLED display. There are 230,400 pixels onscreen overall, which translates to a creditable 209.714 pixels per inch.

View the best mobile displays in The ‘pixel density’ league table

The iPhone 4′s touch-sensitive LCD display is the same size. But its 640 x 960 pixel resolution is a massive improvement on the N8′s display. The pixel density of 329.714 here beats the 209.714 rating given to the N8. And by quite some distance. (2-3)

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Performance:

As for overall performance, the iPhone 4 uses Apple’s own A4 CPU, rated at a speedy 1GHz. The N8′s engine is a surprise. No 1GHz or dual-core mobile processor here, just a 680MHz ARM 11 processor.

As for software, the N8 debuts the brand new Symbian 3.0 OS, which offers several key improvements such as: multi-touch, pinch-to-zoom, HD video (720p), multiple homescreens and web widgets. The iPhone 4 runs iOS4, which needs very little introduction. (2-5)

Downloadable apps

Storage:

Storage-wise, the iPhone 4 provides more space out of the box with 32GB. This compares to the N8′s 16GB of onboard storage. The N8 also features a microSD slot to boost the storage to a roomier 48GB. Apple didn’t build an expansion slot into the iPhone 4, so 32GB is the maximum capacity. (3-5)

Battery life:

How does the performance compare? The N8 boasts 12.0 hours of talktime according to Nokia, while the iPhone 4 is rated at only 7.0 hours. Standby time is rated at 390 hours and 300 hours respectively. No points for the iPhone 4 here. (4-5)

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Extras:

On to the extras… The N8 also includes onboard 3D graphics acceleration, GPS/A-GPS (with free Ovi Maps), a digital compass, Web TV and Flash support. Nokia has also squeezed in an FM radio (with RDS) and an HDMI out with Dolby Digital Plus support. The iPhone 4, meanwhile features built-in GPS/A-GPS, a digital compass and a clever 3-axis gyroscope. (5-5)

It’s a tie!

In terms of technology, Nokia’s beefy N8 might have emerged as the winner of this fight. But Apple still has the edge in software and eco-system, despite the improvements offered in the Symbian 3.0 OS. A draw (5-5) is a fair result.

Rather than catapult Nokia ahead of the pack, the N8 yanks them back into the game. For that to have happened, the N8 would have needed a far better, higher-resolution display and a nimbler processor. Whether Symbian still has the legs to compete against iOS and Android remains to be seen.

Do you agree with the outcome of this fight? Leave us a comment below now…

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